Several news items caught my eye this week, from VS Naipul's absurd rant about the inferiority of women writers, to the surprising revelation that there is a sub-genre of porn films based on Star Trek:
However, the story that interested me most concerned the publication of a new independent report about the financial value of nature. According to the 'UK National Ecosystem Assessment', nature is worth £50 billion and the health benefit of living close to a green landscape is £300 per person per year.
Of course, that's putting it very crudely. This report is a complex survey that involved hundreds of scientists, but newspapers need headlines and 'Nature worth £50billion to Britain's economy' has to compete with the latest update on Ryan Giggs' love life.
I thought about this report yesterday, when I took my sons to the Lewes Railway Land project - a nature reserve created out of waste ground that used to be railway sidings. Twenty years ago, there was talk of turning the land into a retail park, with space for several hundred cars. In Crawley they would have had the JVCs out before the ink was dry on the contract, but in Lewes it was a different story.
Here's what could have been the 873rd branch of Sainbury's:
Hopefully there will be fewer retail parks in the future and more places like this.
The other benefit of going to the Railway Land is that it was completely free. My sons spent a couple of hours having far more fun than they would have done manically charging around a softplay centre, bouncing off the walls.
As we left I congratulated myself for not spending any money. But then I went and completely blew it by visiting the Lewes farmers' market.
That was a big mistake: